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Saturday, February 4, 2012

The self and ego are intertwined

The self is the way you are in life. It is your perceptions, desires, memories, judgments, and intellectual functioning (reasoning). The self is who you think you are; your name, thoughts of the past and future, likes and dislikes, the person you call "Me," "Mine," "My," and "I".  The self is not the same thing as the ego.

The ego is when you believe that your self is better, or even worse, than someone else. The ego suddenly appears when you believe your self is separate from the outside world (objective world). For most people this is most of the time. But I need to stress that it is not necessarily bad. The belief of duality is simply what has evolved over millions of years as discussed in the last post. It is a way of surviving in a world of critters and situations that could kill or do you harm.

However, a problem arises when you become attached to the ego, become identified with it, and someone gets hurt in the process.  For example, let's say Sally's number one value is intimacy when it comes to relationships.  She believes that intimacy is the only way two people can stay together in a loving relationship. According to Sally, anything else is purely artificial and could never last.  Tom and Mary, on the other hand, value acceptance and take separate vacations every year. He like to do his thing and she likes to do her thing. Sally can't understand how Tom and Mary can stand to be apart for two whole weeks unless, of course, they are mad at one another. Sally's attachment to her value of intimacy is being projected outward to Tom and Mary. She expects other people to have the same value she has. "Surely something must be wrong with their marriage," she thinks. She begins telling other people about Tom and Mary and how their marriage is on the rocks. This begins a vicious rumor within the community and before long, everybody is talking about how Tom and Mary can't get along.

This is just one little example of how someones attachment to their value, which is part of their ego, can become harmful. The self has a thought about how other people are different - the ego appears. The ego has a thought about how the difference is wrong - a judgment. The ego expects other people to have the same value - expectation. The expectation can feed on itself and become a very strong desire to make other people adhere to its desire. That is when an ego can become dangerous.

In the next post I will show how the ego can be projected inwardly and do harm to the person with the ego.  In other words, the ego becomes detrimental to the self. This is something we all need to watch out for.

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